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FIA moves to stop new flexing front wing saga

By Berthold Bouman

The FIA has revised the regulations concerning the flexibility of aerodynamic parts, as McLaren allegedly used a new front wing design that enabled the front wing to flex backwards. The German Auto, Motor und Sport magazine reported Ferrari had complained about the McLaren wing and had asked FIA officials to act, as the Maranello-based team thought the wing was illegal.

McLaren front wing at Singapore GP

The new trick this time is that the wing can move as the pillars that support it, can rotate or ‘twist’ in such a way that under high speed the wing moves backwards a bit, there is less drag and thus the trick results in a higher top-speed on the straights. Also the airflow under the car is improved, which has an effect on the way the air passes through the rear diffuser, which gives more traction.

Red Bull was the first team to recognise the potential of the new idea, and introduced a new longer nose during the Singapore Grand Prix that could even rotate further than the one used by McLaren.

McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh this week said the new flexing wing saga was just ‘business as usual’, “From time to time questions and disputes arise between teams, who feel that other teams are too flexible or whatever. I don’t envisage any particular problems for McLaren in that regard, and consequently I don’t think that it is anything that will harm us.”

Red Bull design wizard Adrian Newey, however, thinks the tightness of the regulations are the real culprit. “I think it is a shame that they are so tight in a way, there’s no doubt that it stifles some of the creativity. But that’s the world we live in,” he said. The competition is also tight Newey said, “The grid is so tight if you can find two tenths of a second in the final qualifying session, that can move you quite a few grid positions.”

According to Autosport, the FIA has now revised the way the flexibility is tested, the new test should now expose any twisting of the pillars as well. It is also understood all teams passed the new test at Suzuka today, but teams were warned in advance so they might have changed their front wings to pass the test.


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